Preview: Geelong vs Box Hill Hawks
The Geelong Cats and Box Hill Hawks face off on Sunday afternoon for a spot in the Peter Jackson VFL Preliminary Finals.
After exiting a string of consecutive victories, Geelong are looking to jump back on the winning list whilst Box Hill have saved their best form for the final few games of the year.
These two sides last met in Round 15 where the Cats were able to walk away with a mammoth triumph. Coach Matthew Knights has been able to dissect the game as to be best prepared.
“I don’t think the 51 point margin was a true reflection of how close the match actually was, from memory it was only a one goal game late in the 3rd quarter.
“We started very well and were playing to the structures that we had put in place but unfortunately we went away from a lot of the things we had been doing well and Box Hill kicked six or seven consecutive goals in the third quarter.
“We cannot afford to have a lapse in concentration like that again, especially not in a final against a dangerous side like Box Hill.
“Our tall forwards provided us with some very dangerous targets that day and we will be looking for that again on Sunday from the likes of Josh Walker, Mitch Brown, Shane Kersten and Jack Hollmer.”
Knights believes that his opponents strength lies in the cross-section of players that they have on the ground at any one time.
“They have a number of talented players that they can rotate through their midfield at any given time which makes them a hard side to match up on. Everyone knows Chance Bateman is an extremely dangerous player, while the likes of Cheney, Schneider, Hallahan and Andrews have all had very good seasons.
“Their forward line is one that has caused a number of headaches for opposition sides throughout the season. The likes of Broc McCauley, Adam Pattison, Daniel Pratt and even Max Bailey form a dangerous combination when mixed with the likes of Amos Frank, Bradley Hill and Derick Wanganeen.
“The match up in the ruck between Stephenson and Simpson against Bailey, McCauley and Pattison will be an important battle.”
Within a few weeks Geelong have transformed from a team that held a competition high winning streak, into a side with consecutive losses, be it to Port Melbourne and Williamstown. None the less, Knights will not press the importance of this match to his group.
“The players know what is at stake and what needs to be done. If we get back to playing the type of football we played throughout that nine week period, we will be very hard to beat. But we will need to play at that level if we are to defeat a high quality opponent.”
Knights believes that the guidance and experience his playing group possesses will pay dividends on Sunday.
“We have a lot of experience within our playing group, including a great deal of AFL and VFL finals experience too which is important in our current position.
“All year players such as Troy Selwood, Dom Gleeson, Andrew McLean, Simon Hogan, Orren Stephenson, Tom Gillies, David Wojcinski and Shannon Byrnes have played a crucial role in the development of our playing group. This weekend will be no different with those guys continuing to provide a great deal of leadership and direction.
“The young players in our squad would have learnt a great deal from the Qualifying Final last weekend – which is something that will hold them in good stead for this weekend and beyond,” Knights said.
The Box Hill Hawks approach the do-or-die contest with a side full to the brim with talent. This was evident last weekend with individuals such as Taylor Gilchrist, Beau Muston and Jarrad Boumann lining up in their Development Team. Coach Damian Carroll believes it creates a spirited and competitive environment within the Club.
“We believe we have good depth in our squad and our development team was very strong last week. A couple of these players such as Jarrod Boumann had not played much footy recently due to injury (3 games in 18 weeks). It does put pressure on everyone to perform which has been a good thing for the club.”
Box Hill have consistently been able to knock-off sides in the bottom eight of the competition, but are yet to prove their dominance against the top teams this year. Carroll thinks that they are well on their way and with the opportunity his side will show their true colours.
“We have actually beaten Werribee who have qualified for a prelim final. Defeated Williamstown who are one of the form teams at present (both of these wins were away) and also pushed Port Melbourne to 3 points so I think we have shown we are not too far away!
Like Geelong, Box Hill will be following their regular match preparation in the hope it will produce the best result.
“We will try to prepare like any other game but obviously it’s not just a normal game especially in knock out finals. The players understand the importance of the contest and it’s no use hiding that from them. I want them to embrace the challenge and welcome the extra pressure that comes with finals,” Carroll said.
Tune into ABC TV on Sunday at 2pm to watch all of the live action.